Some of you just got a raise

The national minimum wage increased today by 70 cents, from $5.85 per hour to $6.55 per hour — the second of three increases due to take effect under legislation enacted by Congress; the final increase to $7.25 per hour will occur July 24, 2009.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, who was the lead sponsor of the bill which increased the minimum wage, says it’ll help Americans struggling to cope with the lousy economy:

“The increase in the minimum wage comes at an important time for the millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet. Real incomes have dropped since 2001, while the costs of gasoline, health insurance, and attending college have skyrocketed. With Thursday’s increase, Americans who most urgently need a pay raise will get a badly needed boost.

“These pay increases aren’t just about helping workers provide for their families. Unlike tax breaks for the wealthy, the minimum wage increase for American workers will be spent locally, which is good for local businesses, large and small, and good for a struggling economy.

“Democrats in Congress have been working to ensure that all Americans are able to share in the benefits provided by their hard work. We will keep working towards those goals in order to help grow and strengthen America’s middle class. So far, Congress has enacted a stimulus package to try to get our economy back on the right track, approved legislation to make college more affordable, and pushed efforts to lower energy and healthcare costs.

“In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, it is an outrage that anyone who works full-time would still wind up in poverty. Democrats will continue to look at solutions that will help all Americans build a better life for themselves and their families.”

Miller’s committee posted this video today, featuring some of Miller’s more fiery orations on the matter:

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.